Somewhere in America, right this instant, a roomful of young women are waiting to audition for the role of a lifetime. In her headspacey short film, Anu Valia plucks her heroine Clara out of this room and momentarily holds her up to the light, before gently nudging her back into the anonymous stream of preparation, exposure, and rejection. When she’s not bussing across town for auditions and rehearsing for a wordless (and perhaps senseless) play, Clara offers her listeners “cosmic clarity” on her nightly podcast. She also tends to her own inner goddess through a set of rituals that begin as benign putterings and end up as a pointed bodily self-investigation, like an alien imposter prodding and flexing its own newfound skin. The nervy and nagging uncertainty that flows through “Drifters” is a credit to Valia’s craft in bridging the film’s central contradiction in tone: just as the shooting mixes the off-hand observation with the elegantly composed frame, the mood melds desperation with a state of loony agitation that’s sometimes indistinguishable from enlightenment. -Jonathan Kieran.
Written and Directed by Anu Valia. Starring Sarah Goldberg, Peter Grosz, Jim Santangeli. Director of Photography: Ivaylo Getov. Producer: Tessa Treanor.